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Want to be a TV anchor? Read this
Kanchana Banerjee

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April 05, 2007

Don't wish for the big break too soon." This is what BBC World's popular anchor Michael Peschardt has to say to youngsters aspiring to become television anchors.

If this sounds absurd and bizarre coming from the host of Peschardt's People (last year, the show featured actor Preity Zinta, writer Shobhaa De and industrialist Vijay Mallya,) remember this: the man knows what he is saying.

One of the BBC's most respected broadcasters and senior foreign correspondents, Michael presents a wide variety of programmes, including news, current affairs and entertainment. He is also a regular presenter on the BBC show, Breakfast.

Michael is in Mumbai to meet with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Amitabh Bachchan, who will feature in Peschardt's People this year. Here's what he has learnt, over the years, about the art of anchoring a show on televsion..

Don't wish for overnight success

Michael says it's important to go through the grind and to know your subject thoroughly well. This, he says, is something that can only come through age and experience.

"If I had tried to do what I do now when I was in my twenties, I would have failed miserably and never got another chance. It is important to get the big break at a time when you are ready to perform and excel," he says. Don't wish for overnight success; it might mar your chances forever.

Know your subject

"Always know your subject. Build a very sound and strong foundation. Irrespective of which subject you wish to cover -- entertainment, business, sports or arts -- it is crucial to know your area thoroughly," says Michael.

In his shows, Michael has interviewed celebrities from across the globe. He says, "It is impossible for anybody to know people across geographies. I always research a lot to acquaint myself with the person's work and background. I also find it useful to learn about the person from the people in the country."

So what might seem an easy and walk-in-the-park interview is actually a lot of hard work.

Get professional help

He further adds, "Professional training also helps. Being a presenter for a television show or a radio jockey isn't as easy as it seems. You might be a glib talker but professional training always helps. It smoothens the rough edges, teaching you the nuances of presenting. Finally, no amount of training can prepare you for the excitement (and nervousness!) of being on television, but training always helps."

Yes, the master presenter does admit to sweaty palms and a sinking feeling of nervousness. He says, "Everyone feels nervous, but the trick lies in not letting it show. The only way you can do that is by knowing your subject really well."

What makes a good or bad interview?

"A good interview is one which shows a lesser known facet of the interviewee. Also, the interviewer should walk away from the show learning something he didn't know.

"It is not my style to interrogate or provoke my guests. While that kind of shows do have their place and audience, Peschardt's People is a friendly, casual comfortable friendly chat."

Micheal also suggests you never film in a studio; instead, stick to an environment where the guest can relax and be his/ her real self. He feels studios are the most uncomfortable places on earth and compel people to put on a show.

"I always like to meet up with my guest outside the studio, getting comfortable, making the person at ease and chatting him/ her up."  Each interview for Peschardt's People is usually filmed over two to three days.

Do your job well

A presenter's job is crucial and a bad one can ruin all the hard work put in by the team to put the show together.

"As a presenter, I'm always conscious of the fact that 15-20 people work in the background to ensure everything runs smoothly and that a great show is made. It is absolutely imperative that I do my job well so that the hard work of so many people isn't ruined," says Michael.

Never be larger than the show

Being a celeb himself, Michael is down-to-earth and very grounded (another must, he says, for a presenter). "Never be larger than the show. People watch the show to see interesting people talk and not to see the presenter. So don't keep interrupting the guest. You are the facilitator and not the main focus of the show."

Peschardt's People will begin airing on BBC World from this weekend.   

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